Grievances: Three Things it’s Helpful for Every Manager to Know

It’s likely that many managers will find themselves needing to deal with an employee grievance at some point, so what can it be helpful to know?

1. What is a grievance?

Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints that can be about a wide variety of matters including terms and conditions of employment, work relations and equal opportunities. Whilst some grievances can be minor and may be capable of being resolved quickly on an informal basis between employees and managers, often grievances need to be addressed by following the company’s formal grievance procedure.

2. Why is it important to manage and address grievances appropriately?

There are many reasons for doing so, including:

  • It can help to prevent matters from escalating and if there is merit in the employee’s grievance, provide an opportunity to remedy the issue or address the situation and take any necessary steps to try to prevent it occurring again.
  • It’s beneficial for employee relations as it gives employees confidence that they and their concerns will be treated fairly and reasonably. Even if ultimately the employee isn’t right about what they are saying it’s still important that they feel they have been heard and can understand the reasoning and basis as to why that’s the case.
  • Employees may complain if their grievance has not been dealt with or has not been dealt with appropriately. In some situations, this could lead to an uplift in the amount of a tribunal award if the employee goes on to successfully bring an employment tribunal claim, for example if they have a discrimination complaint. In some cases, an employee may try to argue that they have been constructively dismissed if their grievance is serious and has not been addressed.

3. What does a formal grievance process involve?

Usually, addressing an employee’s grievance via a formal grievance procedure will involve:

  • Inviting the employee to attend a grievance meeting
  • Investigating the complaint
  • Giving a written outcome and right of appeal.

Remember that the employee will have the right to be accompanied at a grievance / grievance appeal meeting by a colleague or a trade union representative if they wish.

Once a reasonable investigation into the issue/s has been completed, a decision will need to be made as to whether there is merit in the employee’s grievance or not. It will be necessary to consider all the information the employee has provided, including anything that has been said in the grievance meeting as well as the information that has been gathered in the investigation. This will need to be weighed up to determine whether there is merit in what the employee has raised. If the employee’s grievance is founded, it will be necessary to consider what steps are necessary to resolve the matter.

Remember that the grievance outcome should give an appropriately detailed explanation of the decision that has been reached and the reasons for it.

If an employee raises an issue in your organisation, it’s important to seek advice on the facts of your case from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking steps to address it. Remember, Kingfisher Professional Services are here to help and we can provide advice on dealing with grievances at all stages of the process.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact us.